# Planar Disjoint Paths in Linear Time

The Disjoint Paths problem asks whether a fixed number of pairs of terminals in a graph $G$ can be linked by pairwise disjoint paths. In the context of this problem, Robertson and Seymour introduced the celebrated irrelevant vertex technique that has since become standard in graph algorithms... The technique consists of detecting a vertex that is irrelevant in the sense that its removal creates an equivalent instance of the problem. That way, one may solve the problem in $O(n^2)$ steps, as the detection of an irrelevant vertex takes $O(n)$ time and at most $n$ vertices may need to be removed. In this paper we study the Planar Disjoint Paths problem where the input graph is planar. We introduce an extension of the irrelevant vertex technique where all the irrelevant vertices are removed simultaneously so that an instance of the Planar Disjoint Paths problem can be transformed in a linear number of steps to an equivalent one that has bounded treewidth. As a consequence, the Planar Disjoint Paths problem can be solved in linear time for every fixed number of terminals. read more

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